Growing up is scary, that’s undeniable, but it’s also an exciting time, as we have different opportunities available to us. since we have within our reach different opportunities to direct our life as we have dreamed of doing or in such a case, experiment a few times to finally find the path we want to walk and where we want to settle down.
In short, being an adult is an adventure, but it is a stage in which we must have in mind a final destination which we will eventually call home. But that doesn’t stop us from going on vacation from time to time and still being, in a way, children exploring the world.
Adulthood is the biggest change in all our lives, representing the end of youth and the beginning of a major chapter, with all its letters. Responsibilities, autonomy, independence, romance, obligations and family are all issues that characterize adulthood. However, we can also say that it is the perfect stage where we can do and practice what we like the most without having to ask permission and being consistent with our past, present and future decisions.
Therefore, in this article we will now talk about all the stages of adulthood and their main characteristics that now surround your world or that that now surround your world or that await you very soon.
What is adulthood?
In theory, adulthood is the stage that continues after adolescence, marking the end of hormonal, physical, emotional and psychological changes to give way to the construction of the complete integral being. This entails the settlement of the system of beliefs and personal values, sense of responsibility, financial independence, development of commitment, search for professional development and inclination for more stable relationships, both in the casual and intimate sphere.
This is due to all the factors that comprise the stage of adulthood in general, which are: health, physical and emotional condition, relationships and emotional ties, dependence and independence, life habits and professional development. Each one, directly and indirectly affecting the quality of life of the person and their path towards that future they once dreamed of in their youth, as pointed out by the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson.
Stages of adulthood and their main characteristics
However, as adulthood is composed of changes that revolve around our stability, independence and reproduction, we will discuss these three stages and their characteristics below..
It is characterized as the period of time between the end of adolescence and before the beginning of middle adulthood, in an age range of 21-40 years, making it one of the longest stages of human development of all. Although the age of majority throughout the world is recognized from the age of 18 onwardsAccording to development experts, adulthood begins at the age of 21, where the period of late adolescence ends, although some say it can begin as early as 18 years of age.
At this stage, young people are full of energy, expectations with life and with a great creative potential that they are about to develop with the entrance to higher education, which will eventually become the career to which they will dedicate themselves for the rest of their lives. They are excited with the discovery of this new facet where they have already left behind the stage of confusion to focus on their professional training.
Characteristics of early adulthood
As it is a rather long stage, they understand several characteristics that influence the development of their life.
At this stage they begin to have a first approach to independence. Although some have not yet moved out of their parents’ home, their independence can be seen in having their own economy (by starting to work), responsibilities in contributing to the household (such as buying food, paying rent, etc.), academic independence (by studying their chosen career) and promotion of their skills developed in adolescence.
1.2. End of physical development
Adolescence is shaped by thousands of changes in a person’s figure, however, this development stops once early adulthood is reached. Although around the age of twenty, people have greater strength and muscle toning, so their body is more agile and resistant.
Therefore, it is necessary to have fixed health routines that can be adapted to the daily life, such as continuous physical exercise, moments of rest and relaxation, recreation, healthy eating and a good quality of sleep so that the body not only rests, but is revitalized for the new day.
At this stage, people are able to solve problems of great complexity and are exposed to a greater number of obstacles, which represent the way in which they achieve the evolution of their capabilities and the construction of their integral being. Although these can also be an important feature in the development of psychosomatic illnesses and even mental disorders.
One of the great examples we can mention is the poor management of stress, the development of anxiety, phobias, social distancing or isolation and in more serious cases, depression. This is due to the fact that it is precisely in the early adulthood stage where most mental illnesses manifest themselves.
1.4. Social and affective evolution
As for the social environment, this has a great change and evolution in favor of what people consider related to their preferences. So that they can reduce their large groups of friends, for a smaller and closer circle, which can be built during their studies or their professional environment or include them with their friends from the past.
While the affective part also has an important change, as young people discover their own individual potential, they seek to have relationships that adapt to their new rhythm of life. So they may begin to experiment with casual relationships (during their twenties) or attempt a more intimate and committed relationship where they form a family (later in life).
1.5. Establishment of morality
In early adulthood, the foundations of one’s beliefs, opinions and moral values are laid, depending on the way in which the world is perceived through experiences in higher education, in the professional sphere and in new interpersonal relationships.
On the other hand, these may begin to establish themselves some time after experiencing risky or adventurous behaviors where they discharge all the accumulated energy until they finally lead to a stability that is adequate for them.
2. Middle adulthood
This is composed between the ages of 40 to 60 years of age approximately, and is the stage prior to adulthood.During this stage, people are focused on their professional careers, their children’s education and preparing for their future retirement, so that some try to practice new activities to help them face the end of their working and even parental stage.
Characteristics of middle adulthood
During this stage, new changes continue to occur, but this time they are the culmination of an already lived circle.
2.1. The new stage of rebelliousness
Only this time it is known as ‘the midlife crisis’ where some people around their mid-40s and 50s want to relive their best years of youth, through the clothes they wear, engaging in risky activities, getting along with younger people (sometimes their children’s friends) or spending too much time in the same circle as their children. Behaviors completely atypical of their age.
This process takes place due to the search for a new self-identity, also known as middlescence.
This stage is characterized by a kind of regression in the strength and toning of the body in two directions: weight gain or decreased muscle tone, while in terms of flexibility and elasticity of the skin is reduced, so that wrinkles appear on the face, hands or feet.
In turn, there is a degeneration in the sensory and psychomotor senses, such as loss of sight, hearing or coordination, requiring the use of assistive devices. This alone is an indication that it is necessary to reinforce physical as well as mental training to prevent the development of diseases.
As in the above described, there is a prevalence of decline in cognitive abilities, which are reducing their functionality. Such is the case of memory, attention and orientation. So it is important to perform activities to strengthen mental agility and keep the neurons active, a good example is reading, development of new skills, mental games and lots of physical activity.
2.4. Moral bases
The moral bases here seem to be twofold: they have two aspects: they consolidate rules and values according to what they have learned throughout their lives and what they have taught their children, while on the other hand, they have greater flexibility in terms of the new beliefs of their environment and can adapt to them. This is because they have a greater inclination for the will and welfare of people rather than for what they think about how people should live properly.
2.5. Affective relationships
Having a person in a stable relationship can be essential to having a stable and enjoyable retirement, as they are dedicated to rekindling the flame of the early stages of marriage and even courtship. While this is of vital importance for ideal parenting, in which both parents agree on the best way to raise their children and support them in what they decide to do with their lives.
And speaking of children, they become a big part of the emotional relationships, as the bond is strengthened in a major way, as well as with their parents. However, they must be prepared for the imminent death of their parents.
3. Late adulthood
Finally, we have reached the last stage of adulthood, which remains controversial for some theorists, who claim that this stage is characterized by old age and that is how they name this stage or ‘old age’ and which is comprised from 60 years of age onwards..
At this stage, the most important thing is to have adequate stability, maintaining a balance between relaxing activities and continuing with physical and mental exercises so that there is no degeneration in these aspects. In addition, older adults are more sensitive to feeling lonely or weak, so having daily workout routines is the most ideal to ensure a high state of mind and the same confidence as years ago.
While emotional ties are more inclined towards commitment and companionship, so they enjoy being with their family, but also being with friends with whom they can share this particular stage of their life.
The quality of life is now more important than ever, taking into account this, it is necessary to continue to maintain a healthy and very nutritious diet, so that strength can be restored in the muscles and bones, which have to weaken and prevent the onset of serious diseases such as cancer. All this in order to have a stable life until the end.
Adulthood as you can see is the longest stage and where changes occur that are intertwined with that future that we had hoped for so much.